The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022 results were announced on December 5th 2023. Nearly 700,000 15-year-old students in 81 countries were tested on mathematics, reading and science. The 8th edition, with a focus on maths, was also the first to collect data on student performance, well-being and equity before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article we summarize the results in reading, and EURead Chair Dr. Joerg Maas responds with a call for action.
Surprisingly so or not, on average, the PISA 2022 assessment saw an unprecedented drop in performance across the OECD. Compared to 2018, mean performance fell by 10 score points in reading. According to the insights, the decline in students’ performance can only partially be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, with falling scores in reading, science, and maths already apparent prior to 2018.
The survey also revealed the fast-changing impact of technology on children’s educational performance. While moderate use of digital devices in school was associated with higher performance, the researchers note that this depends on the technology being used to support rather than distract from learning.
On average across OECD countries, students who spent up to one hour a day on digital devices for leisure scored 49 points higher in maths than students who spent between five and seven hours per day, after taking into account students’ and schools’ socio-economic profile. 45% of students reported feeling nervous or anxious if their phones were not near them, on average across OECD countries.
The state of reading proficiency is alarming
According to the PISA 2022 Results (Volume I): The State of Learning and Equity in Education*, reading proficiency is defined as follows: “Reading literacy is understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society” (OECD, 2019).
The proficiency of 15-year-old students in extracting and processing written information, to understand it and upgrade their previous knowledge, and to assess the truthfulness of the given text by using different kinds of media, are considered crucial for the 21stcentury. Unfortunately, the results show a significant decline in almost all of the participating countries.
“The latest PISA report shows a devastating situation in most of the OECD countries: reading competence levels dropped once again in almost all countries participating in the study. Despite the fact that some countries performed better than most of the others, e.g. Ireland, Finland and Estonia, the key message is that all countries have to take additional measures to increase the reading competence level. Reading is the basis for every child and student to learn, to perform in school and to become a vital part of society – regardless of the economic or educational level of their parents.” – says Dr. Joerg F. Maas, CEO of the German Reading Foundation and Chair of EURead.
Scientific evidence indicates that, irrespective of the socio-economic background of families, reading from a parent to a child can benefit children and add up to their academic success later in life. This process does not start in school, but is closely linked to the reading promotion and the proper support for families, healthcare specialists, kindergarten teachers, schoolteachers, librarians, etc.
“The PISA study is once again a wake-up call for political decision makers in every European and OECD-country and reiterates the necessity for more and better reading promotion and literacy programs in each of our countries and in Europe as a whole.
We as EURead, the European network of organisations focusing on reading promotion and literacy, encourage the European Commission to take the PISA study seriously and to start a European program to increase reading competence of every child in Europe.” – states Dr. Joerg F. Maas
More about the PISA 2022 results: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2022-results-volume-i_53f23881-en
* OECD (2023), PISA 2022 Results (Volume I): The State of Learning and Equity in Education, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/53f23881-en.